TEHRAN: Iran’s moderate President Hassan Rowhani named three new ministers yesterday to replace nominees rejected by the conservative-dominated parliament in August, Iranian media reported.
Rowhani made a last-minute change to his pick for the science, research and technology portfolio for fear of a new rejection by MPs.
Interim minister Jafar Tofiqi had come under fire from hardliners in parliament for alleged involvement in the massive street protests that accompanied the controversial 2009 re-election of Rowhani’s predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as well as for allegedly dismissing conservative officials at the ministry.
Reza Faraji Dana, who holds a PhD from Canada’s Waterloo University and was unsuccessfully nominated for the same post under reformist president Mohammad Khatami, Ahmadinejad’s predecessor, received the nomination in his place, the official Irna news agency reported. Ali Asghar Fani, a reformist who was for a short period interim education minister under Ahmadinejad, was nominated for the education portfolio.
Disputed Abyei to go ahead with vote
ABYEI: Residents of the remote and disputed Abyei border region said they would press ahead with their own referendum next week on whether to join Sudan or South Sudan, despite warnings it could trigger violence in the volatile area.
The ownership of Abyei was left undecided when South Sudan declared independence from Sudan in 2011 — and a long-promised official plebiscite on its status has been stalled by arguments over who is entitled to vote.
Leaders from the overwhelmingly pro-South Sudan Dinka Ngok group said they were tired of waiting for the poll over the territory that has small oil reserves and has seen several clashes between Sudanese and South Sudanese troops. “We have come to the conclusion that the best way to do it, we organise our own referendum and we go on and tell the world what we want,” said Acuil Akol, from the committee organising the vote.
8 suicide bombings, attacks kill 15 in Iraq
RAMADI, Iraq: Eight suicide bombers targeted police and local officials in Rawa, northwest of Baghdad, killing eight people yesterday, while seven died in other attacks in Iraq, officials said.
The attacks come as Iraq witnesses its worst violence since 2008 — when the country was just emerging from a brutal sectarian conflict — and amid mounting fears that the civil war in neighbouring Syria could spill across the border. The dead from yesterday’s suicide bombings included three members of the local council for the Rawa area of Anbar province, three police, a child and another person, while 28 people were wounded, Doctor Wael Fawzi said. Two suicide bombers on foot and another driving a vehicle rigged with explosives attacked the police headquarters for the area, while another driving a vehicle hit an army checkpoint at the town’s entrance.